Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies…

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Scripture: John 12:23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Observation: When a grain of wheat falls to the ground, a full wheat plant grows from it which will produce many grains of wheat. In essence, one grain has died to give birth to many. Jesus is using this metaphor to speak of his own life. His time to die is fast approaching, but his death will only lead to the birth of many disciples who will carry his message to the ends of the earth. So it is in the Kingdom of God. Death is simply a path to life.

Application: It’s not a complicated idea, it’s just a difficult one to accept. Life in Christ begins with a death. My death. Your death. Speaking metaphorically of course. I first realized this as a young adult embracing a life of faith for the first time. I knew that the old Ernie had lifestyle habits that were incompatible with faith, so I had to change my behaviors. Not only that, I had to sever some relationships that drew me away from the Lord. It was a difficult thing, but I’ve never regretted it.

Later on another death was required – the death of a career path. I was working for a large insurance/banking company when I discerned a call to full-time ministry. I remember wrestling with this for some time, but ultimately gave up corporate life for seminary. I’ve never regretted that either.

A few years later another death was required – death of a ministry path. I was leading a church I had founded in San Antonio when I was called to serve in the national church organization. It was painful to leave that church, but it enabled me to invest in the leaders of many, many churches, not just one. No regrets.

Then, just over three years ago, I was called to Texas to serve again in a local congregation – which I absolutely love. However, we left our son Nick behind in North Carolina where he is a college student. We’ve always been a close family, so leaving Nick back in North Carolina was terribly difficult. Still is.

Following Jesus means sacrificing our own preferences, dreams, comforts, agendas for his. And this never stops. Again and again we are called to “die” so that we might embrace life in Jesus Christ and share that life with others. It’s painful. It’s difficult. But it’s necessary.

Question: Where is the Lord calling you to die to yourself so that something greater might come to life in you, or through you?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, death to self is incredibly difficult. Every part of our being resists this. Today we ask you to give us grace that we might follow you to the cross, so that in dying we might truly live. Amen.

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